Those who know me, know that I am a bit of a technology nerd. I have a tertiary qualification in IT, and thus I like to have all the shiny new toys, and I’m not averse to changing brands to take advantage of all that is new and shiny in techno-land. At the moment I’m into Nikon digital cameras, Toshiba laptops, iPads and for a smartphone, I use the Apple iPhone. It is far from being a perfect technology, and there is a lot of things you cant do with it that are available on other smartphones. Anybody who has used another phone prior to their purchase of an iPhone will know what I mean. However the iPhone does have other features which make it an invaluable tool. The ability to do iPhone to iPhone messaging (thus saving carrier costs), locate a lost phone, dump the data on it, and then make it about as useful as a paper weight in the wrong hands. Imagine, my surprise when I learnt that the iPhone is one of the most secure smartphones on the market.
Apple’s investments in iOS security are second to none. A recent report from MIT’s Technology Review said that Apple’s security measures in iOS have “crossed a significant threshold.” iOS is now so secure that it’s hard for law enforcement agencies to access the data in an iPhone that has been seized from a criminal. While this bad for law enforcement, who would seek to use the contained data as evidence against a criminal, but it certainly is good news for consumers.
“From a Department of Justice perspective, if that drive is encrypted, you’re done,” said Ovie Carroll, the Department of Justice’s director of the cyber-crime lab at the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the agency. “When conducting criminal investigations, if you pull the power on a drive that is whole-disk encrypted you have lost any chance of recovering that data.”
Things weren’t always so tight with the iPhone. In fact, when first launched in 2007 the iPhone was so insecure that every single application had root access to the phone’s operating system. This meant that hackers could infiltrate the phone and control it against a user’s will. This was fixed in 2008 when Apple prevented applications from accessing iOS as a whole by “sandboxing” them.
“Apple’s security architecture is so sturdy, and so tightly woven into its hardware and software, that it is both easy for consumers to use encryption on their phones and very difficult for someone else to steal the encrypted information,” Technology Review said. Apple uses an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) key in iOS that is protected even further when users decide to activate the phone’s PIN password lock option. A user who implements an eight digit pin would take investigators 15 years to crack, for example, MIT said. And I thought that I was stuck with the 4 character numeric password! iOS encrypts all of the data on an iPhone, unlike Android, which only encrypts part of the data. It also, reportedly, doesn’t take advantage of hardware encryption like iOS does.
Source: Technology Review